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Medical Secretary


Medical secretaries support doctors and other health care professionals by performing a wide variety of clerical and administrative tasks. These duties range from scheduling appointments to word processing to filing. Since their work is highly specialized, their job requires them to have knowledge of medical terminology and procedures, such as insurance rules, billing practices and hospital or laboratory procedures.

Medical secretaries transcribe dictation, prepare correspondence, and assist physicians or medical scientists with reports, speeches, articles, and conference proceedings. They may also record patients' medical histories and order medical supplies. More generally, they organize and control the day-to-day functions of a health office or institution. They are truly the supporting backbone of a health organization and without them; most doctor's offices and hospitals would be in complete disarray. The duties and functions of a medical secretary vary greatly from one organization to the next. They perform administrative tasks ranging from routine general office functions to acting as special assistants in particular patient's cases. Depending on one's level of experience, the administrative duties will fluctuate.

In the last decade, the role of the medical secretary drastically evolved due to technological advancements. Computers have replaced and simplified some of the once-traditional tasks allowing medical secretaries to take on more challenging projects and responsibilities once reserved for nurses and other professional staff. Functions such as training new staff members, conducting research on the Internet, operating new office programs such as spreadsheets and multimedia presentations and operating medical equipment are good examples of some newer duties. In accordance with these technological changes, the medical secretary's main operative responsibilities have remained much the same. They still must answer phones, book appointments and run the medical office's administrative side.
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Brightwood College

At Brightwood College, we offer accelerated programs that combine flexible schedules and professional instruction to create a rewarding learning experience focused on helping you gain skills for your chosen career.

Programs Offered:
  • Medical Office Specialist



  Average Earnings  
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Median Salary:
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  Interests and Skills  
Medical secretaries will have good oral and written communication skills because they constantly speak with many people on the phone, booking appointments and answering questions. They have good interpersonal skills, excellent organizational and time management skills, and have the ability to work independently or as part of a team. Since many of the clients they deal with are sick, they must be sympathetic and patient with everyone they deal with. Finally, medical secretaries must have the ability to compile and organize information.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Answer the telephone, schedule and confirm medical appointments, greet patients, and receive and communicate messages to doctors
  • Use word processing, spreadsheet and other software applications to prepare reports, invoices, financial statements, letters, case histories and medical records
  • Interview patients to complete intake forms and other documents
  • Complete insurance and other claim forms
  • Set up and maintain records management systems, including classifying and coding electronic and hardcopy files
  • Operate sophisticated office equipment such as voice mail messaging systems
  • Perform other clerical and administrative functions as required, such as maintaining an inventory of supplies
  • Medical secretaries always work in health care settings. They may work at a desk or standing on their feet answering phones and greeting patients. Standard office hours are the norm for most medical secretaries, yet some may be required to work evenings and weekends. Those who work in hospitals and doctor's offices dealing directly with patients may regularly be exposed to contagious diseases.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Medical secretaries are employed by all kinds of health organizations: doctor's offices, hospitals, medical clinics and any other health care settings.

  Long Term Career Potential  
There is not that much room for advancement in this field as the next step up in a health organization is a doctor or nurse; both of which require extensive education. Experienced medical secretaries often advance from performing routine clerical tasks, such as answering phones and filing to the supervision of other medical secretaries. They can also move to other fields and work as administrative assistants and receptionists in the communications field or for a government agency.

  Educational Paths  
There is no set path for becoming a medical secretary. Most positions only require a high school diploma with strong communication skills. Community colleges offer diplomas and certificates in medical administrative or secretarial positions, which can also be very helpful and give you a competitive edge when searching for a job. Many medical secretaries also have related postsecondary educations in health. Knowledge of medical terminology is essential.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

Featured Schools

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Brightwood College

At Brightwood College, we offer accelerated programs that combine flexible schedules and professional instruction to create a rewarding learning experience focused on helping you gain skills for your chosen career.

Programs Offered:
  • Medical Office Specialist

Blake Austin College
Get the hands-on training you need to succeed at Blake Austin College.
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  • Administrative Medical Assistant

Platt College
Turn your talents into a career at nationally recognized and accredited Platt College.
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Southern California Health Institute
Since 1996, Southern California Health Institute has been dedicated and committed to helping students achieve their dreams by providing an exceptional education that enables them to become skilled and successful manual therapists.
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Miller-Motte College
Start the next chapter of your life with an Associate or Bachelor degree from Miller-Motte College Online Division.
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  • Medical Billing and Coding - Certificate

Mayfield College
Give your career a boost with an education from Mayfield College.
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South University, Online Programs
As a student at South University, Online Programs, you will receive the same quality instruction, variety of learning options and level of service found at the campus locations.
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The University of Scranton

The University of Scranton has grounded its education in Catholic and Jesuit principles based on intellectual growth and integrity, all of which shape the online master’s and certificate programs. You can choose one of five degree programs from a selective institution ranked among the top 10 master’s universities in the North by U.S. News & World Report.

Programs Offered:
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Grand Canyon University
Do you have entrepreneurial visions to advance your career in the business world? Learn about the options available at GCU.
Programs Offered:
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Walden University
Earn a respected bachelor's degree, master's degree, or Ph.D. online at Walden University.
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